Although the media and the public are mostly interested in criminal court cases, the number of cases heard by civil court judges is much higher. Dutch civil courts handled 1 million cases in 2008, more than 1.5 times as many as in 2001.
More summonses than petitions
In 2008, 998 thousand civil law cases were heard in Dutch district courts. Just over half of these involved summonses. The remainder were based on petitions. Cases heard by civil court judges usually concern financial issues or family affairs such as divorce, arrangements for parental access and guardianship.
Civil cases heard by Dutch courts
Most sentences in absentia
A summons to court usually results in a sentence. The number of sentences rose by two-thirds between 2001 and 2008, to nearly 500 thousand. The rise in the number of debt recovery cases accounted for a considerable part of this increase.
Court summonses and petitions
Just over 4 in 5 sentences are pronounced in absentia. Most of these are in connection with debt recovery cases.
Many family law cases
A petition procedure usually concludes with a court order. The number of civil court orders rose by nearly half between 2001 and 2008, to just over 388 thousand. More than three-quarters of these court orders concerned family law cases such as divorce, guardianship and supervision orders for minors. Petitions are also filed for cases concerning dismissal and bankruptcy.
Petitions and court orders
Appeals: Courts of Appeal and the Supreme Court of the Netherlands
The Courts of Appeal handle appeals lodged against the judgement of a district court. The highest court is the Supreme Court of the Netherlands; it is responsible for hearing appeals in cassation.
The Courts of Appeal settled 11.5 thousand civil law appeal cases by a court decree or a court order in 2008. The Supreme Court pronounced just over 500 cassation orders in civil cases.